Zach Test and Dallen Stanford are among the American internationals expected to contend for the USA's 2013 Maccabiah Games squad.
Some 28 to 30 players will make the one-of-a-kind representative team, set to compete in the quadrennial 'Jewish Olympics' next July. Coached by former Eagle Shawn Lipman, the program has scheduled an all-comers tryout this Labor Day weekend in Chicago.
Opportunities to play senior-level select-side rugby in America have dried up. For most of the past decade, USARFU's international schedule has been ever-changing, while domestically the national body has sought to recast its administrative and competitive frameworks.
Invitational sides like the Maccabiahs are an outlet for players unwanted by USARFU, or unable to get its attention.
Lipman, a Santa Monica flanker who earned 9 caps, including 3 at the 1991 World Cup, recalls a different era, aspiring to 'build back to the prominence we had in the 1990s', when the Maccabiahs sometimes played in the now-lapsed Inter-Territorial Tournament.
'We [the Maccabiahs] could compete with the best teams in the USA', he observed.
The USA Maccabiah squad won a bronze medal in 1989, silver in 1993, and gold in 1997. Four years ago, under past Eagle hooker Craig Levine, the squad claimed another bronze.
But as the games have grown to some 9,000 athletes, placing the quadrennial event among the world's larger multisport athletic competitions, the competition has stiffened. Drawing traditionally strong entrants from South Africa and Australia, rugby has become one of the showcases.
In response, US preparations for the 2013 kicked off early, and incorporate remote fitness training and testing. Once selected, the squad plans to muster two or three times prior to next July, possibly including the Las Vegas Invitational at the USA 7s.
The staff includes Greg Schor-Haskin, returning from the 2009 team, past Eagle prop and USARFU coaching coordinator Norm Mottram, and ex-Australian international Marc Schterbina, who has been at Santa Monica.
Management initially expected to select a squad of 24 players. But as the Maccabiah Games now include 7s, while the 15s calendar comprises 4 or 5 games in 11 days, it decided to take a larger group.